Blockchain is disrupting so much more than the data management industry.
Peer-to-peer networks are infusing the infrastructure of cryptography which is generating a growing demand in data security and transparency solutions for a growing number of uses and applications. For example, the shift started some time ago as the finance and capital markets are moving onto the blockchain, leveraging the decentralization and disintermediation benefits of the technology’s architecture.
Assets of many kinds are being transitioned to the blockchain, creating a more efficient and economical system for the transfer of value, and management of fractional ownership. Active companies today include: Block One Capital Inc. (TSX-V:BLOK) (OTC:BKPPF), MGT Capital Investments, Inc. (OTC:MGTI), HIVE Blockchain Technologies Ltd. (TSX-V:HIVE) (OTC:HVBTF), Bitcoin Investment Trust (OTC:GBTC), Global Blockchain Technologies Corp. (CSE:BLOC) (OTC:BLKCF).
Block One Capital Inc. (TSXV:BLOK.V) (OTCQB:BKPPF) BREAKING NEWS: Block One Capital, an investment company focused on high growth opportunities in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector, is pleased to announce that it has entered into a definitive agreement (the “Agreement”) with Affirmation Technology Group LLC (“Affirmation Technology”) to acquire 30% of the New York, USA based developer of decentralized anti-money laundering (“AML”), know your customer (“KYC”) and Accredited Investor solutions .
Under the terms of the definitive agreement, the Company has acquired 30% of the blockchain technology company, with an option to acquire an additional 10%.
Affirmative Technology provides the technical infrastructure to power a suite of decentralized compliance solutions through the INTELid™ (http://www.intelid.com) platform. The business proposition is to bridge the gap between the growing want for decentralized, peer-to-peer financial markets, and the global need for compliance adherence as required by current market regulators and other governing bodies. Affirmation Technology was founded by Wall Street veteran and long-time technology strategist Scott Carotenuto.
“INTELid is where investors, traders and other would-be blockchain participants have actual ownership of their [verified] AML, KYC, and investor accreditation data. Compliance requirements surrounding new issue securities tokens, crypto trading, as well as counterparty-risk assessment for OTC and secondary markets are going to continue to evolve with advancements in use cases for blockchain and cryptography, and we intend to position INTELid as the benchmark for decentralized compliance solutions. INTELid user data ownership is coupled with the individual owner’s ability to also control the level of confidentiality or anonymity employed when conducting business”, said Mr. Scott Carotenuto.
“Affirmation Technology is not only a pioneer in blockchain AML/KYC architecture, it will also enable security token issuers be compliant while restoring power and privacy to the investor” said Mr. Sothi Thillairajah, CEO of Block One Capital Inc. Read this and more news for Block One Capital at: http://www.marketnewsupdates.com/news/blok.html
In other industry news and developments:
MGT Capital Investments, Inc. (OTCQB:MGTI) announced that it has filed a Universal Shelf Registration Statement covering up to $150 million of various MGT securities, including common stock, preferred stock, debt securities, rights, warrants and units, that the Company may sell from time to time. Investors may view the Company’s Form S-3 as filed with the SEC at http://www.sec.gov . As disclosed in the Company’s Form S-3, MGT has made an application to The Nasdaq Stock Market to list its common stock on The Nasdaq Capital Market, although there can be no assurance that our application will be approved. Operating in facilities in northern Sweden and Washington State, MGT Capital Investments, Inc. ranks as one of the largest U.S. based Bitcoin miners.
HIVE Blockchain Technologies Ltd. (TSX-V:HIVE.V) (OTCPK:HVBTF) announced in May it has closed its acquisition of Kolos Norway AS and its 64-hectare property in Ballangen, Norway, as previously announced in the company’s news release dated March 26, 2018. The acquisition of the property supports Hive’s continuing strategy of acquiring and developing assets with access to low-cost power in cold climates and supplies the company with extensive flexibility to expand the business. The company currently operates cryptocurrency mining facilities in Iceland and Sweden with 24.2 megawatts of energy consumption and is fully financed for an expansion of an additional 20 mw of SHA-256 ASIC mining capacity in Sweden to be completed by September, 2018.
Grayscale Investments, LLC, a global leader in digital currency asset management, today launched an online resource library for institutional and individual investors. The new website, called Insights, will showcase Grayscale’s content and analysis to help investors make more informed digital asset investing decisions. “There is tremendous appetite in the investor community for better information and clarity around digital currency investing,” said Michael Sonnenshein, Managing Director of Grayscale. “We are trying to demystify this market by offering clear-eyed analysis that demonstrates how digital currencies, when sized appropriately, may fit into a traditional investment portfolio.” Grayscale provides investors access to the digital currency asset class through its family of investment products, including the first two publicly-quoted digital currency investment vehicles: Bitcoin Investment Trust (OTCQX:GBTC) and Ethereum Classic Investment Trust (ETCG).
Global Blockchain Technologies Corp . (CSE:BLOC) (OTCPK:BLKCF) announced this month it has partnered with Oak View Group (OVG), making KODAKOne and KODAKCoin official partners of six OVG Arena Alliance venues, including four NBA (National Basketball Association) teams and two NHL (National Hockey League) teams. Participating arenas and teams include AT&T Center (home of the San Antonio Spurs), Bankers Life Fieldhouse (home of the Indiana Pacers), Golden 1 Center (home of the Sacramento Kings), Xcel Energy Center (home of the Minnesota Wild), Prudential Center (home of the New Jersey Devils) and Talking Stick Resort Arena (home of the Phoenix Suns).
Deloitte: Middle East organizations need to rethink their workforce in the wake of COVID-19
Organizations in the Middle East have had to take immediate actions in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as shifting to remote and virtual work, implementing new ways of working and redirecting the workforce on critical activities. According to Deloitte’s 10th annual 2020 Middle East Human Capital Trends report, “The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward,” organizations now need to think about how to sustain these actions by embedding them into their organizational culture.
“COVID-19 has created a clarifying moment for work and the workforce. Organizations that expand their focus on worker well-being, from programs adjacent to work to designing well-being into the work itself, will help their workers not only feel their best but perform at their best. Doing so will strengthen the tie between well-being and organizational outcomes, drive meaningful work, and foster a greater sense of belonging overall,” said Ghassan Turqieh, Consulting Partner, Human Capital, Deloitte Middle East.
According to the Deloitte report, many organizations in the Middle East made quick arrangements to engage with employees in the wake of the pandemic through frequent communications, multiple webinars where senior leaders addressed employee concerns, virtual employee events, manager check-ins, periodic calls and other targeted interactions with the workforce.
The report also discussed how UAE and KSA governments have reexamined work policies and practices, amended regulations and introduced COVID-19 initiatives to support companies and the workforce in the public and private sectors. Flexible and remote working, team-building and engagement activities, well-ness programs, recognition awards and modern workspaces are among the many things that are now adding to the employee experience.
Key findings from the Deloitte global report include:
- Only 17% of respondents are making significant investments in reskilling to support their AI strategy with only 12% using AI primarily to replace workers;
- 27% of respondents have clear policies and practices to manage the ethical challenges resulting from the future of work despite 85% of respondents saying the future of work raises ethical challenges;
- Three-quarters of leaders are expecting to source new skills and capabilities through reskilling, but only 45% are rewarding workers for the development of new skills; and
- Only 45% of respondents are prepared or very prepared to take advantage of the alternative workforce to access key capabilities despite gig workers being likely to comprise 43% of the U.S. workforce this year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Worker well-being is a top priority today, and similarly to the rest of the world, companies in the Middle East are focusing their efforts to redesign work around well-being by understanding workforce well-being needs,” said Rania Abu Shukur, Director, Human Capital, Consulting, Deloitte Middle East.
One in five insurance customers saw an improvement in customer service over lockdown, research shows
SAS research reveals that insurers improved their customer experience during lockdown
One in five insurance customers noted an improvement in their customer experience over lockdown, according to research conducted by SAS, the leader in analytics. This far outweighed the 11% of customers who felt it had deteriorated over the same period.
This is positive news for insurers during such challenging times, with 59% of customers also saying that they would pay more to buy or use products and services from any company that provided them with a good customer experience over lockdown.
The improvement in customer experience also coincides with a rise in the number of digital customers. Since the pandemic started, the number of insurance customers using a digital service or app has grown by 10%. Three-fifths (60%) of new users plan to continue using these digital services moving forward.
However, while the number of digital users grew over lockdown, half of the insurance customer base has not yet chosen to move to digital insurance apps or services.
Paul Ridge, Head of Insurance at SAS UK & Ireland, said:
“It’s impressive that there was a net improvement in customer experience during lockdown, despite the challenges the industry was facing with a transition to remote working and increased claims for things like cancelled holidays. While many were forced to wait on customer help lines for long periods, part of the improvement may be explained by even a small (10%) increase in the number of digital users.
“However, it’s clear that a huge number of customers are still yet to make the move online. It’s vital that insurers provide the most accurate, timely and relevant offerings to customers, and this is best achieved by having additional insight into online customer journeys so they can understand them better. Using analytics and AI, insurers can seize this opportunity to digitalise their customer experience and offer a more personalised approach.”
Meanwhile, for insurers that fail to offer a consistently satisfactory customer experience, the price could be severe. A third (33%) of customers claimed that they would ditch a company after just one poor experience. This number jumps to 90% for between one and five poor examples of customer service.
For more insight into how other industries across EMEA performed during lockdown, download the full report: Experience 2030: Has COVID-19 created a new kind of customer?
The power of superstar firms amid the pandemic: should regulators intervene?
By Professor Anton Korinek, Darden School of Business and Research Associate at the Oxford Future of Humanity Institute. Gosia Glinska, associate director of research impact, Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Darden School of Business
Recent news that Apple hit a market cap of USD2 trillion highlights an extraordinary success story: A once struggling computer-maker on the verge of bankruptcy innovates its way to becoming the most valuable publicly traded company in the United States.
Apple’s 13-figure valuation is indicative of a larger trend that is not entirely benign — the rise of a handful of superstar firms that dominate the economy. Over the past three decades, advances in information technology, mainly the Internet, have supercharged the superstar phenomenon, allowing a small number of entrepreneurs and firms to serve a large market and reap outsize rewards. And COVID-19 has greatly accelerated the phenomenon by pushing us all into a more virtual world.
Apple — along with Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Netflix — is a case in point. The combined market value of those six companies exceeds USD7 trillion, which accounts for more than a quarter of the entire S&P 500 index. Even amid the pandemic’s economic wreckage, these megacompanies continue to prosper. The combined share price for Apple and its five peers was up more than 43 percent this year, while the rest of the companies in the S&P 500 collectively lost about 4 percent.
Superstar firms can be found in almost every sector of the economy, including tech, management, finance, sports and the music industry. They command increasing market power, which has consequences for technological, social and economic progress. It is, therefore, critical to understand how their advantages arose in the first place.
THE FORCES BEHIND THE SUPERSTAR PHENOMENON
The “economics of superstars” was first studied by the late University of Chicago economist Sherwin Rosen. Forty years ago, Rosen argued that certain new technologies would significantly enhance the productivity of talented workers, enabling superstars in any industry to greatly expand the scope of their market, while reducing market opportunities for everyone else. Digital innovations, including advances in the collection, processing and transmission of information, is what Rosen envisioned would lead to the superstar phenomenon.
Digital technologies are information goods, which are different from the traditional, physical goods in the economy. What it means is that fundamentally different economic considerations apply. Unlike physical goods — a loaf of bread or a car — information goods have two key properties: They are non-rival and excludable. Non-rival means that something can be used without being used up. Excludability means that an owner of digital innovation can prevent others from using it, by protecting it with patents, for example. These two fundamental properties of information goods are what give rise to the superstar phenomenon.
In a working paper I co-authored with Professor Ding Xuan Ng at Johns Hopkins University, we described superstars as arising from digital innovations that require upfront fixed costs that allow firms to reduce the marginal costs of serving additional customers. For example, once an online travel agency has programmed its website at a fixed cost, it can easily displace thousands of traditional travel agents without much additional effort, scaling at near-zero cost.
Because a firm can exclude others from using its digital innovation, it automatically gains market power. The innovator then uses that power to charge a mark-up and earn a monopoly rent — basically, a price superstars charge in excess of what it costs them to provide the good — which we call the ‘superstar profit share’.
THE POLICYMAKER’S DILEMMA
In a vibrant free market economy, businesses compete for customers by innovating and improving their offerings while keeping prices low; otherwise, they are displaced by more innovative rivals entering the market. Unfortunately, the increasing monopolization of the economy by technology superstars is weakening the competitive environment around the world.
Monopoly power is the main inefficiency from the emergence of superstar firms, because superstars can exclude others from using the innovation that they have developed.
So, what policy measures can be employed to mitigate the inefficiencies arising from the superstar phenomenon?
We do have antitrust policies designed to promote competition and hence economic efficiency. Authorities could take a drastic measure and break up monopolies. Or they could tax all those excess profits megacompanies make.
Another policy to consider involves giving consumers control rights over their data. Right now, only companies have that data, and they are selling it. If you free it up and don’t allow them to sell it anymore, it reduces their monopoly profits. And if you give consumers more freedom over their data, they could, for example, share it with the latest start-up and create a more competitive landscape.
However, such policy remedies can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they reduce monopoly rents. On the other hand, they can also reduce innovation.
Innovation requires investments in R&D, which represent a significant sunk cost that only large firms can afford. Government regulations can easily backfire, discouraging large firms from making long-term R&D investments.
What, then, is the best policy intervention? Professor Ding Xuan Ng and I believe that basic research should be public. Digital innovations should be financed by public investments and should be provided as free public goods to all. This would make the superstar phenomenon disappear, and the effects of digital innovation would simply show up as productivity increases.
We live in a brave new world that is increasingly based on information. Because the information economy is different from the traditional economy, antitrust policy should be revamped to reflect that. Instead of worrying about the economy being eaten up by these gigantic monopolies, policymakers need to focus on the question ‘What specific actions can we pursue to make the economy more competitive and efficient?’
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